One of the best things you can do is begin planning the future of your assets before it is too late. Unfortunately, many people do not plan what will happen to their business, their estate, and even their money before they pass away, and their loved ones are left dealing with how to divide assets and going to complicated court proceedings. However, creating a trust or a will is a great way to plan for the future, but it can be confusing knowing which one you should create and what their purposes are. Is there a difference? Are they important differences? In fact, both a living trust and a will allow you to determine who your beneficiaries are. Aside from that, however, there are quite a few differences.
Comparing the Two
There are many differences between a living trust and a will. Below, you can find some of these major differences.
- Naming Beneficiaries. As mentioned above, you can use both a will and a trust to name the beneficiaries for a piece of property you own. For a trust, you lay out the property’s information, decide who gets the property, and then transfer said property into your trust. For a will, on the other hand, you simply list your property and then list your beneficiaries.
- Making Document Revisions. Revising your trust or your will can become a little complicated. To revise your trust, it must specifically be a “revocable living trust”. This allows you to make changes for life events or simply if you wish to. You cannot revise an irrevocable living trust once you have completed it. The testator can, however, revise a will whenever they wish to revise it, but they must follow certain procedures to make sure these changes are legal.
- Document Transparency. Once the living trust creator passes away, the trust is not available to the public. A will becomes a public document when the testator passes away.
- Minor Children Guardians. A living trust is not the right place for you to name guardians for your minor children. A will is exactly the place to name a guardian for your children if they are minors.
- Naming Someone As Your Executor. In a living trust, you cannot name someone to be the executor of your estate. Instead, you can name someone as your “successor trustee”, and that person is then responsible for managing any property in your trust. With a will, you can name someone to be the executor and this person has the responsibility of taking care of your estate once you pass away.
- The Probate Process. In certain cases, your family can avoid the probate process after you pass away. If you created a trust, the property that remains in your living trust will not pass through probate. Property left through a will, however, will need to go through the probate process.
While you do not need to retain a lawyer for the creation of either a living trust or a will, speaking with an trust lawyer St. Peters, Missouri about the process and which option is best for you and your family can be extremely beneficial and help your family avoid snags in the legal process after you pass away.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Legacy Law Center for their insight into estate planning and the difference between a will and trust.